The Children's Refuge Ministries was presented with a donation in the amount of $3,500 by the Exchange Club recently. Pictured from left is Exchange Club Treasurer, Tom Byrne, Mollie Cardwell and Mary Jon Rea of Children's Refuge Ministries and Exchange Club President Gus Clark. 

HOUSTON – The Exchange Club recently made a donation to Children's Refuge Ministries as part of their community outreach.

Children's Refuge Ministries, formerly known as The Refuge-Chickasaw, is a foster care closet where families of foster children can come and get much needed supplies to help raise these children.

After speaking to the Exchange Club at one of their meetings before the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the club was determined to help The Refuge out with a donation to their organization. However, the pandemic and some tax documents slowed that process a bit.

“Up to this point, the organization operated as a non-profit organization, but had not applied with the Internal Revenue Service for tax exempt status under IRC Section 501(c)(3) nor had we registered with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office as a Charitable Organization,” said Mary Jon Rea, one of the founders of the organization. “By doing so, contributions made by the public to the organization could be exempt from income tax and financial accountability would be strengthened due to reporting requirements required by the Internal Revenue Service and the Mississippi Secretary of State. In August 2020, the organization changed its name to Children’s Refuge Ministries and filed all the applications with the Internal Revenue Service and the Mississippi Secretary of State and was awarded tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.”

This then set the wheels in motion for the donation from the Exchange Club.

“Myself and Mollie Cardwell spoke to the club in December and were presented with a check for $3,500,” said Rea. “We are so grateful for the support and encouragement that The Exchange Club has shown to us.”

The generosity does not stop there either.

According to Rea, after their initial meeting with the Exchange Club, there were numerous community members who reached out to the organization to inquire about how to help.

“Soon after our meeting with the Exchange Club, we were approached by several members of the community wanting to know how they could help the organization grow. It became evident that the community was embracing the work The Refuge-Chickasaw was doing and wanted to help families and children in need.”

The work that the organization does is largely on a donation basis, so they are grateful for any help they may receive from the community and civic clubs.

“Children’s Refuge Ministries currently administers two programs. First, we provide support to foster care families such as clothing, cribs, diapers, toys, etc. Many of these items are donated but in the instance when a family may need specific items that are not in our closet we purchase the item for the family. Secondly, we operate a food pantry that focuses specifically on school age children. Unfortunately there are children in our community that the only meals they receive are at school. With the assistance of counselors and social workers, we identify these children provide them with food when not at school. All the food in our pantry is purchased with funds received in the form of donations.”

According to Rea, the work is tiring, but being able to help families in need, of which there are many right her in Chickasaw County, makes it all more than worth it.

“There are so many families and children in need in Chickasaw County and sometimes the work is exhausting but it is quickly overshadowed and is extremely rewarding knowing that a child is getting a decent pair of shoes, a warm coat and food to eat. None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the individuals of this community that have so generously contributed both financially and by volunteering their time. It is truly a blessing to see how the support we provide to those in need have grown from just a few to the number we currently serve today.”

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